What is acute lymphoblastic leukemia?
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia is a disease where there are too many abnormal white blood cells in the bone marrow.
Common symptoms of acute lymphoblastic leukemia include:
- anemia (low red blood cell count)
- bone and joint pain
- easy bruising
- recurrent infections
- pain in the abdomen
- swollen lymph nodes
- difficulty breathing
To diagnose acute lymphoblastic leukemia, your child’s doctor will do a complete physical examination and medical history. He or she may also order one or more of the following tests:
- complete blood count (CBC)
- bone marrow aspiration and biopsy
- spinal tap/lumbar puncture
- chromosome analysis
Treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia depends on what type of acute lymphoblastic leukemia your child has, his or her age, and overall health. Treatment options may include:
- Chemotherapy is a drug treatment to stop cancer cells from growing. This is usually the first treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
- Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells. Radiation is usually only used to treat acute lymphoblastic leukemia if the child has a high risk of relapse.
- Stem cell transplant may be a treatment choice if the acute lymphoblastic leukemia has relapsed.
Learn more about Pediatric Hematology, Oncology and Stem Cell Transplant services at Boston Children’s Health Physicians.
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